Professor Tim Benton

Research Director; Director, Environment and Society Centre

Headshot of Tim Benton.


Professor Tim G. Benton leads the Environment and Society Centre at Chatham House. He joined Chatham House in 2016 as a distinguished visiting fellow, at which time he was also dean of strategic research initiatives at the University of Leeds. From 201116 he was the ‘champion’ of the UK’s Global Food Security programme which was a multi-agency partnership of the UK’s public bodies (government departments, devolved governments and research councils) with an interest in the challenges around food.

As a leading expert on food security and food systems, he has worked with UK governments, the EU, G20 and a range of other governments around the world, as well as leading businesses and civil society organizations, and has conducted many foresight exercises on the future of food systems, how to increase their resilience to climate change, reduce their environmental footprints and increase public health through nutrition. He has been a global agenda steward of the World Economic Forum and was an author of the IPCC’s Special Report on Food, Land and Climate (2019), and the UK’s Climate Change Risk Assessment (2017, 2022). 

He has published more than 200 academic papers, many tackling how systems respond to environmental change. He has an h-index of 83, and >35,000 citations on GoogleScholar. His work on sustainability leadership has been recognized with an honorary fellowship of the UK’s Society for the Environment, and a doctorate honoris causa from the Université Catholique de Louvain, Belgium. He also remains a (part-time) Research Professor at the University of Leeds.

Past experience

2016-19 Distinguished visiting fellow, Energy, Environment and Resources, Chatham House
2016-19 Dean for strategic research initiatives, University of Leeds
2011-16 Champion, UK’s Global Security Programme
2008-11 Pro-dean for research, Faculty of Biological Science, University of Leeds
2005-08 Head of institute, University of Leeds and Professor of ecology
2003-05 Senior lecturer, University of Aberdeen
1996-2003 Lecturer and senior lecturer, University of Stirling
1994-96 Editor, Popular Science, Cambridge University Press
1992-94 Researcher, University of East Anglia
1990-92 Hon fellow, zoology, University of Cambridge
1986-90 PhD, University of Cambridge
1983-86 BA, University of Oxford